Tony Blair has criticised the Catholic Church over its stance on gay rights.

In an interview with Attittude magazine, the former prime minister said the Vatican needed to rethink “entrenched” attitudes towards homosexuality which are out of step with the feelings of most Catholics.

He said: “There is a huge generational difference here. There’s probably that same fear amongst religious leaders that if you concede ground on [homosexuality], because attitudes and thinking evolve over time, where does that end? You’d start having to rethink many, many things.”

He added: “If you went and asked the [ordinary Catholic] congregation, I think you’d find that their faith is not to be found in those types of entrenched attitudes.

“Actually, we need an attitude of mind where rethinking and the concept of evolving attitudes becomes part of the discipline with which you approach your religious faith.”

Blair converted to Catholicism in 2007, after leaving Number 10.

While in office, he introduced civil partnerships for same-sex couples and lowered the age of consent for gay people to the same as for heterosexuals.

In December last year, Pope Benedict XVI said the existence of gay people threatens humanity as much as the destruction of the rainforests does, and that “blurring” genders through acceptance of transgender people would kill off the human race.

He also said man must be protected “from the destruction of himself” and urged respect for the “nature of the human being as man and woman.”

“The tropical forests do deserve our protection. But man, as a creature, does not deserve any less,” he said.